parent with child

When parents are divorcing, one of the most contentious issues they’ll face is child custody. The court will decide if parents cannot agree on a parenting arrangement. Generally speaking, the court will use the “best interest of the child” standard to make custody choices. In New Jersey, there are various types of custody arrangements. While the court typically tries to preserve the parent-child relationship by awarding joint custody, that’s not always possible. In some cases, they award sole custody. Please continue reading to learn under what conditions sole custody is granted in divorce cases and how our proficient Monmouth County Child Custody Attorneys can help you today. 

What is Sole Custody?

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand that there are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to where a child primarily lives, while legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to decide for the child. As mentioned above, the court typically tries to grant joint custody. This is because the court recognizes that having a regular and ongoing relationship with both parents is in a child’s best interest. However, in some cases, a joint custody agreement would not serve the child’s best interest.

Under a sole custody agreement, one parent will take care of the child most of the time. The non-custodial parent may have visitation rights (potentially supervised visits). However, they will live with the custodial parent who provides hands-on care. Under this arrangement, the parent who is awarded sole custody will retain the right to make decisions when raising the child without consulting the non-custodial parent. It’s crucial to note that a parent awarded sole physical custody will also be awarded legal custody. This means that the child will spend most or all of their time with the custodial parent, and that parent will make choices about their child’s upbringing on their own.

When is it Awarded in New Jersey?

Sole custody isn’t usually awarded since it’s considered preferable for a child to be nurtured by both parents. However, the court can award sole custody under the following circumstances:

  • Parental alienation
  • Lack of parental involvement
  • Abandonment or neglect
  • Domestic violence
  • Substance abuse
  • Untreated mental health issues
  • Geographic distance (relocation)
  • Incarceration
  • Parent’s ability to provide for their child and meet their needs
  • Child’s preference (if they’re mature enough to present their preference based on sound reasoning)

Ultimately, the court will award sole custody in cases where they believe it’s necessary to ensure a child’s safety and well-being. To receive sole custody of your child, you must demonstrate to the court that it’s in your child’s best interests to spend primarily live with you and for you to make significant decisions concerning your child. This may require you to prove the other parent cannot provide for your child or meet their needs.

If you’re facing a child custody battle, please don’t hesitate to contact a trusted attorney from the legal team at Paone Zaleski & Murphy, who can help you safeguard your child’s best interests.